|Memorial to the over 1,000 Zulu who died at Isandlwana. The British camp was between the small hill on the left and the foreground of Isandlwana hill.|
The Battle of Isandlwana, January 22, 1879 was the first major battle of the Zulu War and resulted in a crushing victory by Zulu warriors over invading British troops. Lord Chelmsford had divided his force, forging ahead to the east, hoping to contact the main Zulu Impis, and left his supply and reserve forces camped under the watching eye of the 'Sphinx', the hill known as Isandlwana. Ignorance or arrogance precluded any attempt to fortify the camp: no expectation of attack was contemplated. Meanwhile the main Zulu impis had advanced unseen towards the encampment, bypassing to the north Lord Chelmsford's searching column. On the morning of the 22nd, a small patrol discovered the main impi force, precipitating an immediate attack on the British camp. More than 1300 troops, irregulars and support personnel were slaughtered in the worst military disaster inflicted by a 'native' army against the British Army.
Later that day the Zulu impis went on to attack the little settlement at Rorke's Drift, this battle immortalised in the 1964 film "Zulu" starring Michael Caine.
"Zulu" has been said to be the single most inspiring South African tourism advert ever.
I can say it certainly inspired our interest in South Africa's history and to visit the Battlefields area of KwaZulu-Natal. We went on to explore much of the area where Zulu-Boer, Zulu-Anglo and Boer-Anglo wars were fought. With a South African guide, and using local guides we were able to learn more about the complex history of conflict in South Africa, and how this places this huge country with its multitudes of tribes, races, and cultures in the modern world.
|Looking from the other direction across the battlefield.|
White stone cairn memorials mark British dead.
The British camp spread across the foreground and to the right of the picture. The white stone cairns mark the spot where Chelmsford's forces buried the remains 4 months later. Each small cairn marks 25 bodies. Larger cairns mark 50 bodies buried. To the extreme right of the hill of Isandlwana, or the 'toe of the boot" is a white marker denoting the position where some of the last remaining holdouts who retreated up the hill were killed.
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